cognitive consistency

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The experience of holding thoughts, attitudes, or of acting in ways which are not mutually contradictory. The cognitive consistency versus inconsistency polarity, along with consonance versus dissonance and balance versus imbalance, has been employed widely by social psychologists in the analysis of attitude change. Theorists assume a desire for cognitive consistency, arguing that cognitive inconsistencies—a mis-match between cognitions—are uncomfortable, and can motivate attitude change. However, the consequence may also be denial and rationalization. See also cognitive dissonance.

Subjects: Sociology.

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